Bristol Rugby will become the Bristol Bears from June 1st 2018, heralding a “brave new era” at Ashton Gate, it has been announced.
Bristol confirmed promotion last week – bouncing straight back into the Premiership – and they will return to England elite as with a new look, as well as a bevy of new players.
They have also unveiled new home and away kits with the Bristol Bears logo.
Stephen Lansdown said the club had been “in a time-warp and we got caught out last season in the Premiership – we can’t let that happen again.”
Lansdown said the rebranding is part of an effort to increase the number of supporters attending games at Ashton Gate to 25,000 from a base of about 14,000 currently.
The new name has had a mixed reaction online, with some questioning why the supporters club were not consulted about the renaming.
In the official statement this afternoon Bristol say: “Over the last eighteen months, the club has carefully considered how best to shape its long-term future. We firmly believe that the ground-breaking move will attract a whole new generation of supporters and – most importantly – inspire success on and off the field.”
In the official online release Lansdown said: “This is an exciting and major commitment to ensuring the future success of the club. In order to succeed in our mission to Inspire Our Community Through Rugby Success, we must make bold changes to ensure we are prepared for the demands of this highly competitive, dynamic environment.
“We have to be prepared to break the mould and be relentless in driving the progression of this rugby club. In a challenging market, in order to attract investment and new audiences, we must be brave in our vision. The development of the brand expands our appeal to a global audience at a time when the appetite for professional rugby is growing in international markets.
“We believe these changes – alongside the matchday improvements to Ashton Gate and the continued engagement with local schools and our community – are critical to enable long-term success.
“We recognise that there is a history and tradition associated with all sports clubs and we are conscious and proud of the loyalty, bond and passion so many share for Bristol Rugby.
“We hope that all supporters will embrace the changes and recognize the significant investment taking place – on and off the field – to bring success and a sustainable future for the club.”
Watch episode one of Rugby Explorer with Jim Hamilton.
Ex-Scotland international, Jim Hamilton, travels to Singapore to explore the city and find out more about the rugby scene in the Southeast Asian country. He meets up with the national team captain and several local players.